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BULLETIN NINETY THREE
ASTRONOMY FROM GOD AND MAN
As this world rustles on to its devastation, mercifully not to come until after Jesus Christ returns, but that not without judgment, there is a continuing need to review the biblical declarations. Amid so much philosophy, even including old style Liberalism's removal of and rewiring of parts of the Bible, as standards fall and temptations grow, old waverings and waivers readily accrue. In this case, it is decidedly a propositional and not a personal matter. Certain propositions have been made as shown in Bulletin 53, and certain approaches to the Bible as to the words of Jesus Christ, and this type of thing needs continuing attention.
It is there listed as
"The Eternal Universe"
versus the Biblical Confines,
with the Bible as compère,"
It features the basic thrust of John Hartnett's 2017 hypothesis, and those scriptures opposed to his concept of extended universe life or continuity. May it stay, this heavens and earth ? Most assuredly not, according to the biblical declarations, where God has stored His information with authority, for man, take it or leave it and done so in His own name, challenging man to show its equal! (cf. Isaiah 41,48).
Now the word of God is the word of GOD, to be kept to the jot and the tittle (Matthew 5:17-20), not bandied about like a bargaining chip or a philosophic nostrum. It acts and never fails, but what it declares will fail, will do so in the way declared. Again and again, He asseverates, HIS word, being that of God Himself, will not fail, but the word of man, it will fail, the hopes of the heart of man, they will fail, and the devices and thoughts of man, they will fail (cf. Isaiah 59:21, 55, 41:21-24, 34:16-17, I Peter 1:21-25, I Thessalonians 2:13-16, Romans 16:17 cf. SMR Appendix C and D).
Whether man has ideas to rewrite the scripture, or overwrite it, to tender it like a sheep dog putting sheep into their paddocks, whether blatantly or mildly, uproariously or quietly, it has one thing in common: it is man at work on what God has given, and as information, it is not available for sharing any more than are the genetic instructions, in terms of which man is still constructed each generation, despite the degeneration which as predicted, obtains (cf. II Timothy 3, 4, I Timothy 4, II Peter 2, Matthew 24:24). Whatever the intention, when the scriptures are altered in terms of ideas, then the rebuttal is sharp (cf. II Timothy 4:1-5), for the product is pure (cf. Psalm 119, I Corinthians 2:9ff.), and inviolable.
On the endurance or otherwise of the heavens and the earth, then, in particular, let us see the biblical position further, and relate it both in detail and in principle to the concept of their continuity, which may be put forward by some as if the Lord had so spoken.
There was no more place for them! That is found in Revelation 20:11. It refers to the heaven and the earth, of which this is indited. Indeed, it is declared that there was no more place FOUND for them. It is like forcible immigrants by the thousands; they come, but there is no more place for them; or those queuing for a football match, when at last the available seats are gone, and for more, there is no more place. Just because the matter is large, it is not difficult to comprend.
In this case, their domain and time has been quite long, several thousand years; but awesome has been the rioting and the ruin inflicted by man, and besides, the terminus is apt, for the works have been a triad of horror, amid the nations in their strivings, and often within the nations and the families, slave and other, and the armaments; and it is time to go. Much there is that is lovely and good, and in much this has been compromised, conditioned, corrupted, persecuted, a lavish splendour often systematically hashed and smashed by man, like someone trying to so mar a person's face as to make it unrecognisable. But the work of God is not unrecognisable, for all the fury.
Nevertheless, atrocities abound. Even the site is to be given no extended existde4nce. En bloc, there comes for it dire divine directions to go.
Such is the information from Revelation. It is not merely episodic - like tyres, they wear out when used - but systematic. The ground for it is no more sustained. Devoted to destruction, lurid and increasingly unlovely, no more are they sustained (Hebrews 1:1-3, 12:25-28), no more to remain. Worn out (Isaiah 51:6) like an old coat, to be thrown away, they provide utter contrast in time to the righteousness of God, which is to stay, and to His salvation, which so too is not subject to abolition. Thus declares in the name of God, the prophet Isaiah.
What then ? The righteousness of God is irreplaceable, indispensable, irremovable, inherent, eternal. Similarly his salvation will take no wings, receive no dismissal. These things are spiritual, essential, possessed of a divine dynamic and affirmation which will not pass away. The acute contrast between the coming disposal of this current universe and both the righteousness and salvation of God is total, inexhaustible, systematic and complete. Such is the message in Isaiah 51.
II CORINTHIANS 4-5
As Paul declares in II Corinthians 4-5, the things that are temporary pass, but those eternal do not. The things that are seen are of the former variety, the latter have another and intractable life. The things that are not seen, it is these which contain the intractable, for here lie all morals, motives, perspectives and motivations; some good, some bad, but it is this domain which being of a type suited by nature, for preservation, is kept; though not the unrighteous sector, which has its own come-uppance as we have seen.
Here is the place of what three Gospels declare to be passing away, the going on its way, as of what becomes unstable, unmaintained. Of what is this said ? It is "heaven and earth"; it is this which is in view. Great in scope and profundity though these undoubtedly are, they are the product of One immeasurably greater, just as the builder is greater that what is built. Thus in Matthew 24:35, for example we find once again the contrast of II Corinthians 4-5, of Isaiah 51, there is the temporary, the things for their time, and there are by condition or constraint, those past all time, segment as it is of the universe, challenge as it is to man in his impatience and rebukes (cf. Jeremiah 25).
Now again, there is the immeasurable validity, enduring might, independent authority of the word of God, of which what was declared by Jesus the Christ on earth, formed part; and there is the same contrast. There are "My words" and to these the attachment is eternity. These ? they will not pass away.
There is God and His conservation of what He pleases; and in diminutive contrast, there is what He creates for its scope and potential, time and type, in a setting of trial and test, exhibition and confrontation, opportunity and importunity.
There is the eternal God and the crops He takes and keeps, and there is the domain that does not endure, whether morally, or by authority, or by disposition of the soul. Heaven and earth give by their magnitude, a fitting contrast to the immortal, the immoveable, the divinely groomed, governed and kept past all test.
The one grows old or weary or bleary or internally alien to what is divinely spiritual and humanly necessary. The other is either the Lord Himself, or what is positioned and conditioned to become relatable in eternity (cf. I Corinthians 15:50ff.), though its arrival (like that of the embryo) is by gift (Romans 6:23, I John 3:1-9), by grace (Romans 3:23ff., Ephesians 2:1-12).
It is like a fire-cracker. It may be spectacular, but it comes to go. It may be explosive, but it finishes. You see we are in the contrasting foci, features, domains and arrangements of the undissolving, undecreasing, undismissed, and what is apt for its spiritual siting (John 14:1ff.), on the one hand, as distinct, and distinctively different and decisively other, than what was a stage or platform, laboratory or licensing station, on the other.
That was a display for regard whether of life or the wonders of the heavens, for test or opportunity, for use as now appears in a model of space stations. Utterly diverse is the One back of it, for whom and by whom it exists, its author and sustainer. Isaiah 40:8 exhibits the same kind of contrast, the passing by nature of much, both a pageant and a passing; and then in contrast, that which is oblivious to passing, eternal by nature and enduring beyond decay, deterioration or decline.
God and His creation
are infinitely different, though there are modelling analogies in some things,
such as the power to think and speak and love and hate and imagine and be
logical and have personal character, amid the creation, which enables fellowship
with God. It is this feature which through His immeasurable mercy, is
presented displaying eternal life for all (I John 2:1-2), and making it a gift
for those of the human race who receive the invitation to repentance to life
(Luke 13:1ff, Acts 11:18), by His redemption, reconciliation (II Corinthians
5:18-20), regeneration (John 3) and adoption (Ephesians 1:5) .
MATTHEW 24:35, MARK 13:31, LUKE 21:33
The Gospel Trio
So we read twice again the record in the Gospels, containing the same information, namely also in Luke 21:33 and Mark 13:31. It was a thought fit by the Lord to cover various themes, and this is one. It was the endless integrity of Christ's words, their excess in power and portent over heaven and earth, even these two in conjunction, and their complete cleavage in kind, capacity, endurance and wonder from that lower and structured world of creation, that is in view. This utter disparity is the divine view of it, as of the nature of its components!
In other words, some things are given a passing significance, great or small, but vastly beyond such in the Creator of them all. As to this One, one might almost regard them as trivialities, and so by comparison, though they are not that in themselves, merely in comparison as in Isaiah 40:10-22. It is His love which provides more significance as available to sinning mankind, and His mercy which achieves it for receivers of His gift by grace.
Yet despite the wonder of this provision, many dump it. Indeed, the order of arrogance to be found in mankind over the ages when he forgets himself and flourishes for a time in pride, is beyond the merely astronomical, which itself is a creation of temporary wonder. It is needful to realise that God is not to be compared to this or that in terms of His greatness (Isaiah 45:18-22). Granting some kind of intellectually pleasing eternity, majesty, independence to matter, for example (Hebrews 11:3), therefore, is a mistake in dimension, discernment and orientation vast in kind. Matter, comparatively lowly, yet has been divinely instituted in its formatted and legislated throes and composition, subjected to logical laws, and with all the rest, is in need of divinely continued upholding to remain in existence, as it was likewise, to be created (Hebrews 1:1-3, 11:3).
The invisible made the visible (just as our ideas lead to action and to
invention, but are not themselves measurable), in Hebrews we read. This, it
declares, is understood by faith, and without faith you cannot please God
(Hebrews 11:6). A thing may even be intellectually obvious, whether by logic or
empirical evidence or both; but it is its adoption into the living stream of
actual assurance and adoption and the very interstices of thought and life,
which is relevant here, when it comes to faith as distinct from fiddling. One
lives, as a Christian, by faith as Hebrews 11 stresses, reflecting the words of
Christ in Mark 11.
Not only does the New Testament book of Hebrews, then, tell us that without faith you cannot please God, and that the invisible made the visible, but it declares that the visible will be shaken, citing Haggai 2:6 (cf. Hebrews 12:25-29), that is, the earth and the heavens; and we are told what this signifies. It is "the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, so that the things which cannot be shaken may remain." Thus there is removal of what is susceptible to it, and secondly there is retention of what is not so: the contrast is categorical, complete and absolute. There is moreover a purpose here cited in this removal.
There is a demonstration to be exhibited to one and to all. It is this: that the unshakeable appears in its own category, the division of types is shown utter, and there is nothing left of the unsaved creation. As to that, we recall Isaiah 51:6, the righteousness and salvation of God remain. The message is multiple in form, format and transcription. As seen in Hosea 12:10, the Lord has used many ways in bringing to mankind the realities. Unwise indeed it is to ignore that to which He has given such cherishing assiduity, such work to explain.
First then, the declaration is that what is by nature shakeable, will be shaken; that this same category of things is to be removed. It adds in content that this has a purpose which includes the intent to differentiate entirely, leaving only what is not by nature ABLE to be shaken.
Various are the ways of dismissal, then, of the temporary, which is bound to time and place, with matter associated with mind and spirit, so that this trilogy called mankind gives scope for marvellous works, and anguished horror alike. As above, we have seen several already.
II PETER 3
One more comes in II Peter 3, where amidst the irrational and rebellious false teachings of II Peter 2, we come to the specialised modes of unbelief in view in these times growing nearer to that of the return of Jesus Christ (cf. Luke 21:24). This then from the days of the apostles is long-term prophecy and its concern the excited vanities of unbelief as the day draws near for the regal return of the One who predicted such things, this extended by the Spirit of God as authorised, through the apostles to whom He spoke (John 16:13-16). From these, He declared He would soon be severed for a time, but great would be the joy in the end.
What then do we learn from II Peter 3? Here the dramatic topic is scoffing. At what ? It is in terms of those conceiving the simple continuance of things, as if 'nothing goes around here' but things just proceed. Do they ? So then the gulf between heaven and earth, and the power and continuing modes God confers, and which are His, does not exist ? Matter is to be enshrined amid the immortals ? How ? This constitutes not only a massif of contradiction of scripture whether in the New Testament or in the Old, whether in one Gospel or in several, but in tenor, emphasis and asseveration, with its withering contrasts and celestial affirmations, reminding us just how glorious God is.
This time then there is the reluctance to believe in the creation specifications in Genesis concerning in vast mobilities of water in the works of creation, the majestic dispositions of things in their origination; but in parallel, this spiritual syndrome includes wilful ignorance of the judgment of the flood, though its trade marks imprint the earth*1.
This was the predicted course of derisory unbelief to come, and it has assuredly come already. Despite such undue, untrue and misdirected phases of sociological passion, it is merely like a last throb of fever before death. In fact, Peter indicates, this mockery - this querulous dismissal, is entirely misconceived.
Unbelief indeed may come in various packages, applied whether to some or all things, in one mode or in many such; but the stage predicted even reaches to and includes an intensity for some - and a characterisable intensity - that comes to include even this mordant type of mockery. It relates to our theme in a specialised manner as a specialised occurrence to be broadly found within it.
That, like the gloaming as the sun's last rays are bent on the earth, is an index not only to types of attitude, but by its account in a short report, to their extent, in modes, associations and perspective that comes as an aggregate, as it appears to the times when the latter day trials and vials are demonstrated.
In the end, when heaven and earth DO pass away (not in terms of the discursive minds of some, but according to the word of God, to what is written), there is to be a series of events to attest it. It will become decidedly more difficult to stand on the earth and say or bray against God when the earth is not there, just as it is when death has occurred. But it is not just the locale of flesh itself, when apart from the operations of the Eternal God to bring as a gift, eternal life to those who have loved the appearing of Jesus Christ (II Timothy 4:8), which is to go (cf. I Corinthians 15:50ff.); there is far more.
The very pulpit for mockery, the site for unbelief, and universe of exploitation, guilt, cruelty, domination, dictatorship and devastation, having had its due time, is to be deconstructed. There is to be a new building without even the emplacement of the old; for that is to go, you recall, as it is written, with NO PLACE BEING FOUND FOR IT. You could search for it, as the sons of the prophets searched for the body of Elijah, but not find it; for it is gone. Such is Revelation 20-21. So here, in particular, we are given a report on events involved in the divine dismissal of this creation (while conserving the crop).
A few items, then, appear for fulfilment. First, the heavens will pass away. There are not here to stay. Their time has come. The old coat needs replacement. It is as in Isaiah 32:14. Though there was an unspecified and long time before a change would come ("for ever"), this word in Hebrew can be used in clear contexts to mean no more. Thus in Isaiah at this point, there was a devastation and diminution, a disaster of realised and earned ruin "for ever", but at that very place, the text goes on AT ONCE to tell of this disastrous situation going on UNTIL a total change occurs, as in Isaiah 32:16-20. There is, in other words, here an enduring scope WITHIN an area of discourse, until the the time of consummation and its new parameters, comes.
The constitution of the heavens is not subject to mere ruin by man, disturbances that make it quixotic or exotic but inherently mutable and vulnerable, for the Lord having instituted it for a purpose has no intention of demeaning its role UNTIL the time comes when it has served its purpose. That is one thing you find even in much rational human creation.
Not only (like the creation of our universe) does it start and stop, but like our DNA, our coded directions within our nucleated cells for the construction of our bodies and in each generation, for operations derived from understanding and instituted by directed power, it is written (cf. Psalm 139). It is started, operates and is completed. In due time, smitten. Then its day is past. This is the biblical regimen, and it is one that has operated and for its end, is to operate.
That is why there is such futility when some religiously bent scientists try to explain HOW and WHY it started, and if from nothing, WHY this is a contradiction in terms, that they continue in their own philosophic fudge, invading scientific method with incoherent thought as what appears a kind of religious pre-occupation. What CAN start it, as in our books, does so and has done so; and when it is done, it disposes of the result, either by keeping it, or by dismissing it. Saved man is maintained, for this part is adopted as well as regenerated and to be resurrected.
II Peter 3, in its account of the way in which this creation will go, except for what is saved in it, continues. This occurrence, the old coat thrown away, will come suddenly and unexpectedly, and the passing away, so far from being a silent one, like death, will be eruptively momentous, a movement to cessation generating vast noise, the constituents once so stable, now melting in a heat which disjoins existence and leaves no Earth, and indeed, no continuing testimony of this same earth; for both it and its works will be burnt up.
It is not a renovation. It is not a removal to another sphere in the existing universe. Heaven and earth have their ruin and removal specified, along with modes. It is like a concentration camp, destroyed and despised, tro be obliterated with its memories. Its stench has reached heaven. It philosophic vanities have grabbed at hell. Its presumption, both that of the people in it, and their plans and buildings, their overseeing and ignorant autonomies, their mismanagements and their results, all are to go, divinely dismissed with vehemence, for what has desecrated is uncreated.
For anyone have difficulty with such loathing of the loathsome in itself and its site, appears a strange phenomenon; but psychological rather than logical. It meets the very roots of human feeling, understanding and result, and clears away room for any remaining human desire to have something left for evil to exploit anew, or in which to retain unjust advantage.
In short, Peter declares of heaven and earth, "all these things will be dissolved." The apostle's exhortation is not to dismiss this fact by some kind of re-writing of parts of the Bible, in terms of desire, but to live godly lives.
By contrast of the most elemental kind, there is again this disjunction, correction of any mish-mash of ideas of things eternal and God eternal. You find it in the Psalms in 102. Once again there is the orientation. This earth ? yes, what of it. Its domain is not sustained, it is not to endure, it is not only subject to change but will perish (102:26). This, it is declared in the Psalm, is like changing a coat. (It is always necessary to realise the INFINITE difference between man and God, despite the fact that in grace He has given man means of having an inward parallel which can enable fellowship and understanding). We do not normally say, Oh, but there are still some decent threads left in my old coat, so spare it; but being past its functional period, it is thrown away.
This is the thrust most vigorously presented again, here in Psalm 102. It is a theme vital, impenetrable and elemental in the Bible.
So here. "Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thy hands. They will perish but Thou wilt endure." Here is the domain of infinite difference in majesty and power. Great as those things potentially were, they can be and will be dismissed by a word, that is, the word of His power, the same one by which they were created.
Founder of their foundation, it is this same Lord who is all the more obviously the basis for His disposing of them by His completion of their task for Him. You have to become accustomed to His inveterate power, what to man may appear as an inordinate scale of operations, though it is at His good pleasure, and humbly find your place amidst His marvels, wonders and creations.
To be sure, by His grace and love, He has shown a staggering wonder of redemption, even suffering, even dying in the flesh in the form and format of a man, as a cover for man's sins, meeting justice that mercy might rush out like a waterfall; but this is a measure not of weakness but of the depths of His heart. Therefore His people, receivers of His work of love and this sin-sacrifice, realising His resurrection and all His power (Romans 10:9), find the delicious delight of knowing Him, the depths and the heights (John 17:1-3, 16:14-15, I Corinthians 2:9-13), even the deep things being revealed. It is ONE MORE marvel. You must never confuse the Giver or the Grant, with the receivers or the turbulence of the many inventions of the spirit of man, the thoughts and the Ideas (cf. Isaiah 55), the Ideas and the ideologies which arrive so readily (Ecclesiastes 7:29) like a spiritual CAT - clear air turbulence, which comes and goes so suddenly.
In a mere addendum in this context, in the theme of taking the Bible in its integrity or not, there is a further element to seek out. Thus first logically ... when you take a phase, say maintenance of a creation (whether bridge or a theory against opposition, or an idea or a car), this is utterly diverse from that creative act in the beginning. A book is made by making words (and all subjoined to that), but its maintenance is so utterly different in its library shelves, that the very idea is subversive of common sense and reality. A universe likewise, though it is not so common as making a book, is invested with the same principle qua creation. Its nature as an act, a function and a call for capacity is different in kind. There will be similarities, but the divergence is like gaining the inspiration for a degree production academically, and keeping the result, the product, the book in print or stock. The diversity is fundamental and the quality of inspiration sui generis.
When God installed creation in created space and time dimension (cf. Romans 8:39, it was one kind of action. We are incidentally, here examining the Biblical Model as noted above: and so observe that when He ceased that creation, as in Genesis 2:1-4, it was over and both commemorated and signalised by the day of rest, a fitting memorial and prototype as in Ezekiel 20. It was also something different as in Hebrews one, and logically in type, from the now ceased creation. He now upholds it. In the beginning, He invented, invested and engineered it.
The one aspect of the total, what is it ? It is an inspiriting of thought and understanding in spectacular originality amid the heights of imagination to the depths of the seas and the intertwining laws and functions produced. The other, after this is done, and this statedly: it is a maintenance job, keeping it in order, in check, in function, this with an utterly diverse and subservient fashion. To what ? to the ordering of what was put into being at all, as distinct from the non-being of the creation in view, that is, the universe with all its components, material as in matter, mental as at this moment and spiritual.
Confusion of the two would be a fundamental failure to differentiate distinct and distinctive functions, and hence ignoratio elenchi, swerving from the topic. If we elect to use for the entire biblical presentation and its principles, persons and procedure, as a MODEL, with no overtones of reducing it, but for convenience merely, then this would be a case of confusing two models when ostensibly comparing or differentiating them. The case is the same whether this be done intentionally or incidentally.
Let us take the elements. A model which is naturalistic, in seeking in the end, some variation of nothing in order to find its source, and with this fundamental fallacy, whether realised or not, there can come a predilection for inventiveness. If its mode or model strays into an examination of the Bible, then anomalously there can be some idea that the CREATIVE act is in some way in detail characterisable by the RESULT; but the one is inspirational and in this, in their entirety, matter, mind and spirit are brought from the mind of the Almighty to the condition of existing in a space-time condition. It was not there, nor was the space-time. Now they are both there. He put them there (step one), and now He maintains them (step two). He reveals what He says (rightly) is obvious (Romans 1:17ff.), and whatever detail of His purpose or procedure seems good to Him, to declare (rather like declaring certain goods when passing through Customs).
Creation is over. HOW does the creation complex show beyond what God has chosen to declare, the manner or stages in which it was created! He did it in days, but that is declared in overview. What about the mechanics of the situation beyond that ? By imagination only, that of man, is the manner of movement from the mind of God to the extant result with the categories shown! There is no objective connection beyond revelation, between the mode writing of the universe, and its subsequent performance, so that the first merges into the matrix of the other, and its spectacular achievement of wonders is assignable as to method. It is found, but only in the imagination of man and the knowledge of God.
To imagine that one can know how a mere man like myself, can use his spirit and mind to create the vision back of a book, and the book itself, can be as C.S. Lewis pointed out, in effect, be presumptuous, and inaccurate. It is a guess work assuming too much on the part of the reviewer. The book is there, surely, but the mind of the author is not. It is his, and it is not except he expose it, available to the critic. The sophisticated knowledgeability of the critic is more apparent than real, for in this, he is out of his depth*2.
Yet when the author is God, by whose word the universe was created, the working of whose mind in the creative action comes into view, how colossal is the error in imagining His product reveals the way in which it was made. It may and does reveal the minimal qualities needed for its creation, but not at all past revelation FROM God, the mode and methods of transition from nothing in this, to everything: and then full stop.
There once was - and still is - a dictum to many: Don't mix your drinks. This is one also of great importance in its sphere: don't mix your Models. If you wish to be rational, then follow zestfully what you are talking about, and don't wander. If you wish to be faithful in a comparison or exposition of something, then don't wander off to collect some different philosophical production, and then use it where its field does not belong. When this happens, and at least implicitly, it is quite common, one is tempted to ponder Shakespeare's word, Then has confusion its masterpiece! ("confusion now hath made his masterpiece"). It becomes logically illicit and untrue to the model in view, like pollution for the atmosphere. It can be deeper when not only is the text being examined either altered or ignored, being 'interpreted', but models mixed in a presentation.
See News 1, The Great Divide Ch.8 and Index on this topic.
This applies whether the case be total or partial, realised or not.
In one case of my own in an advanced degree work, the entire vision of it, and the setting down of the entire strategy came in one inspiration, far removed from plodding step by step thought. It was laborious but perhaps rather thrilling, like the birth of a baby. HOW different was its translation into finalised format on the one hand, and preservation of the work when finished, on the other. The difference in function was distinctively utterly fundamental, and unpredictable even by myself!